Mass Effect 4: Everything you need to know
We've been trawling the internet for any faint whiff of Mass Effect 4 news, but we keep coming up short.
Apart from a few teasers from BioWare, there hasn't been any concrete news since the few storyline details, some information on the main characters and confirmation of the Mako return back at Comic-Con in August 2014.
The next Mass Effect is still years away, but BioWare is definitely giving us more and more information at major gaming events than ever before.
We've collated everything we know so far about the next Mass Effect (which definitely won't actually be called Mass Effect 4).
Keep this page bookmarked if you want to keep up with the latest on Mass Effect 4 release date, news and other rumours.
Mass Effect 4 release date
Despite confirming that Mass Effect 4 is definitely in production, Bioware haven't offered any indication of a release date for the title. Not even a vague year of release either, much to our annoyance.
At the San Diego ComicCon during a special Mass Effect panel, Game Producer Mike Gamble revealed that the Mass Effect 4 release date is still "years away".
Although this pretty much reiterates what the development team have been saying for the past year, it means we won't get to play the new Mass Effect until at least late 2015. And that's probably at the earliest too.
Mass Effect 4 news
Mass Effect 4 to be Xbox One/PS4 exclusive
Forget any hopes you had of the next Mass Effect game coming to last-gen consoles, as developer BioWare has confirmed it will be solely for new-gen consoles - and potentially PC too of course.
The news came via BioWare GM Aaryn Flynn, who said on NeoGAF that the developer had ditched development for last-gen consoles.
"I'd go so far as to say that dropping the older consoles has had more impact on the overall gameplay goals of hte next Mass Effect game than what Dragon Age: Inquisition successfully achieved," said Flynn.
See also: PS4 vs Xbox One
Dragon Age: Inquisition isn't a template for the next Mass Effect
Despite the financial and critical success of Dragon Age: Inquisition, BioWare isn't going to use the game as any sort of template for the next Mass Effect - regardless of the similarities between the two games.
"All of our games are using Frostbite now," said BioWare GM Aaryn Flynn. "We've said the next Mass Effect (and our new IP, but I won't expand on that yet) uses some of the technology from Dragon Age: Inquisition. We've been enjoying building larger areas that you can explore with less friction, so that'll be there as well."
"But after that, the next Mass Effect will be (and should be) drawing on its own rich and successful past more than what Dragon Age: Inquisition would say it should do. Take the Mako for example, something we've already shown in prototype form. We had that in Mass Effect 1, and bringing it back is more related to a feeling that we can do it much better than we did before and fulfil the original promise of that gameplay. that has nothing to do with Dragon Age: Inquisition."
"We're very proud of what Dragon Age: Inquisition has achieved, but that does not set a 'template' for what every other game we make needs to be. Each game franchise needs to innovate and improve their experience based on what's best for it, not just what another game had success with."
See also: Best Games 2015
Lots of details from San Diego Comic-Con 2014
Those attending this year's Comic-Con were lucky enough to attend a special Mass Effect panel entitled: "Charting a Course: Developing the next Mass Effect".
During this half hour panel, BioWare panelists Carl Boulay (lead animator), Fabrice Condominas (producer), Mike Gamble (producer), and Noel Lukasewich (senior artist) shared their experiences of developing the next Mass Effect and revealed a few key details about the upcoming game.
"At this point we want to pull back the curtain a little bit on some work in progress stuff as we go through, to give you some more insight into it. But it is work in progress stuff. We're years away from being able to say that this is the exact game that we're making. Take this with a grain of salt. What you see here may not be the same as in the final game, but we want to show it anyway," said Gamble.
They started off by showing off the hero of the next Mass Effect. Confirming the main character will be human, the team teased that they would have something to do with N7 - something very key to the previous Mass Effect titles and Shepard himself/herself.
The team did reiterate that the game's storyline will not focus on anything to do with Shepard and will feature a brand new storyline. The timeline will be set during Shepard's lifetime though, albeit potentially in a different galaxy.
In that manner then, you could see some of your old favourites like Garrus or Samara making a brief cameo in the new game.
As you can see above, BioWare showed off two customisable armour designs for the game's protagonists, in both male and female iterations and both were given a glass helmet. This latter part of the armour is to highlight the game's strong focus on exploration.
That ties in with the return of the Mako too. The Mako was a six-wheeled vehicle used in the first Mass Effect game, but it is being revamped and made speedier for the next Mass Effect.
"It's a really agile Mako, it's much different to the one you've seen before. There's no cannon on it, maybe it can hover maybe it can jump - I don't know", teased Gamble.
A very brief gameplay demo of the Mako showed it zooming around a snowy landscape with some speed, doing doughnuts, doing jumps off rocky outcrops and even more exciting things.
"We're playing around with a bunch of different physics for the Mako. The thing that we have to do is make sure it is as responsive as possible," said Gamble. "We've learned a thing or two over the years."
"it's mean to be a fast, point to point vehicle at this point. It's something that you can tear around planets in really quick to get to where you need to go."
"The Mako is going to be fundamental to the game. We're making a game about exploring places and obviously exploring places needs a really, really handy vehicle."
BioWare also confirmed that the game would feature the some familiar alien races, but also introduce some new ones. Of course, one of the game's fundamental attractions are the interactions and relationships you can have. This will still be present in Mass Effect 4, so don't expect to lose that with the newest game.
“The animation team is now doing stuff we couldn’t even dream about before,” said Gamble during the panel.
The game may also build in some kind of co-operative multiplayer for the storyline, as although competitive multiplayer is important, Gamble said “co-operation is bigger for us”.
Watch the full Comic-Con panel here:
Next Mass Effect will definitely feature brand new characters
During the EA Games E3 2014 press conference, a brief, but exciting Bioware docu-trailer was shown. It gave us some brand new details on the next Mass Effect and a little on the new IP in development at BioWare Edmonton.
"We think fans of the series are going to be surprised with just how far we are going," explained BioWare during the trailer.
Although it didn't offer any information on the release date, BioWare did confirm Mass Effect 4 would feature "new places, new characters and new people to fall in love with."
"We want to build a world that is as big and as imaginative as anything we have done so far," explained the developer. "At BioWare we are building worlds and journeys for the next generation."
The game will be set in a new location in space and the idea is to centre the game on exploration - letting you travel to new planets at the touch of a button, without loading screens.
Bioware is just teasing us with these new Mass Effect 4 pictures...
The guys over at Bioware have issued a series of tweets teasing the upcoming Mass Effect game, but the tantalising images actually reveal very little about the game.
Various Mass Effect 4 developers released the Twitter pics, starting with the tagline: "The next Mass Effect is upon us!" They also added there will be "new characters to fall in love with", "new enemies to encounter" and "new worlds to explore".
Casey Hudson, executive producer of the Mass Effect game, rounded off the tweets with a celebration of N7 Day 2013, saying:
"We continue working hard to create amazing new Mass Effect experiences for you. Happy N7 Day everyone! #N7Day13".
Take a look at the pictures they released...
Read more - Mass Effect 4 teaser pictures released by Bioware - November 8
Mass Effect 3 may have been the last we see of Shepard. Ever.
According to Mass Effect 3 writer Mac Walters, Mass Effect 4 may not relate directly to the existing Mass Effect trilogy "at all, whatsoever".
So that means ME3 might really be the end of Shepard as we know him/her, and we suppose this fits with the fact the next Mass Effect will take place in a "fresh and new universe."
"Well, I can't get into details, but the idea is that we have agreed to tell a story that doesn't relate necessarily to any of the Shepard events at all, whatsoever," explained Walters. "That's what we've been deciding for a while. But throughout it all, one of the key things is that it has to be Mass Effect."
"It can't just feel like a spin-off. It has to feel like a Mass Effect game at its heart, at its core. Just without the Shepard character or the Shepard specific companions".
Read more - Mass Effect 4 may not relate to Shepard storyline or characters in any way - October 16
Mass Effect 4 has reached a major milestone, we don't know what it is though
The Bioware boys have been exchanging high-fives over the progress of Mass Effect 4, saying the game is at a "milestone review" point.
Michael Gamble, Producer on the Mass Effect franchise and Casey Hudson, Executive Producer of the Mass Effect series, have been tweeting back and forth sharing the game's successful developmental stages with eager fans.
"In a milestone review for next Mass Effect game. Team is doing outstanding work. Looks beautiful, fun, ambitious and Mass Effect-y!" said Hudson.
"What's even more fun than working on the design of a new fictional work? Taking our first steps into it and looking around," Hudson had earlier tweeted, suggesting the game is well into development.
Later, Gamble tweeted a virtual high-five to colleague Hudson, adding: "I like it when a plan comes together. Especially a Mass Effect plan."
It's only been six months since Bioware confirmed the game was in production at the Montreal studios, but it seems that the team has been busy creating the next Mass Effect world.
That's all the info we're getting at this point it seems, as the boys didn't give away any storyline or location hints during their online banter session.
Read more - Mass Effect 4 looks "beautiful, fun and ambitious", says Bioware - September 11
BioWare confirms Mass Effect 4 starting development
BioWare has said the game will not be called Mass Effect 4, but until we have any further details, this is the way the game is being identified.
"We are starting to get ready to develop another Mass Effect game, and it's going to be a new thing," said executive producer, Casey Hudson, at the PAX East panel. "We want to be able to give fans an opportunity to get back into the world with these things you've come to know and love about the Mass Effect experience but start something fresh and new - a new way for you to explore the whole universe in Mass Effect."
Other than this tantalising titbit, we know little else about Mass Effect 4, apart from the fact it will be using the Frostbite Engine.
Read more: Mass Effect 4 will be a fresh and new universe experience, says Bioware - March 25 2013
Mass Effect 4 could let you play as Garrus, Grunt, Aria or the Illusive Man
Mass Effect 4 could feature one of the existing Mass Effect series characters as its protagonist, according to discussions by the Bioware developers.
Players could take control of "one of Shepard's most loyal friends", Garrus Vakarian. Casey Hudson, Executive Producer for the Mass Effect series said Garrus has "had some of the most driven personal goals", is "a hero in his own right" and such a "bold and charming" character could make an engaging storyline for ME4.
Meanwhile, Preston Watamaniuk, the Lead Designer for the series, believes basing the game on the Krogan and a melee combat system "could be pretty exciting", potentially letting gamers play as Grunt or Wrex.
Mac Walters, Lead Writer for the Mass Effect series wants to focus on one of the smaller, less developed characters like Aria, The Illusive Man or Kai Leng for example. Mike Gamble, the Mass Effect series' producer, thinks that Javik, the sole surviving Prothean and star of the Mass Effect 3: From Ashes DLC, would steal the Mass Effect 4 spotlight.
Read more: Mass Effect 4 possibilities discussed by Bioware - May 13
BioWare wants your input for the Mass Effect 4 trailer
Studio Director of BioWare Montreal, Yanick Roy, reached out to his Twitter followers to ask for input for the PS4 and Xbox One Mass Effect 4 trailer.
"When we release a teaser trailer for the next ME, like DA3 [Dragon Age 3] just did, what would you like to see? What question would you like answered?" tweeted Roy from his personal account.
The tweet suggests that BioWare has yet to cement many of the storyline features for the upcoming Mass Effect title.
"When the game takes place and who you get to play are very strong trends in your answers," Roy tweeted later after many many responses.
However, seeing as the trailer has yet to be created, we could be looking at a 2015 release date for the game.
Conspicuously absent from E3 2013, Mass Effect 4 wasn't mentioned, with BioWare instead debuting the Dragon Age 3 trailer with a 2014 release date. This again suggests we could be in for quite a wait before the next Mass Effect launches.
Read more - Mass Effect 4: BioWare asks for fan input for Xbox One and PS4 trailer - June 17
Gears of War 3 producer to join Mass Effect team
Chris Wynn, previously Senior Producer for Epic Games, will be moving to a new post at BioWare.
Working as the Senior Development Director for the next Mass Effect game, Wynn has deserted his post as Senior Producer at Epic Games, having worked on Gears of War 3 and Gears of War: Judgment.
Announcing his new job on Twitter, Wynn said he was "thrilled to announce" his new role at BioWare.
Wynn will be working under Mass Effect franchise boss Casey Hudson, but will have a huge part to play in the development of the next Mass Effect title.
Read more - Mass Effect 4 team gains Gears of War producer Chris Wynn - July 3
Until we know more, here are a few thoughts about what we'd like to see.
Mass Effect 4 - what we’d like to see
1. A prequel exploring Mass Effect history
Games like the new Tomb Raider reboot and Batman Arkham: Origins prove that everybody likes a prequel. The Mass Effect timeline is already littered with important events that have had a serious impact on the story of the original trilogy.
The rise and the fall of the Protheans; The Krogan Rebellions; The Geth Wars; or even the Rachni Wars could serve as excellent settings for the Mass Effect 4 game. Often these events have been diminished to mere bullet points in the Mass Effect codex or brief story points, so Mass Effect 4 could be used to elaborate more.
In this way, some of the stories of the spin-off Mass Effect novels and comics could be given the video game treatment.
2. A sequel exploring what Shepard does in the aftermath
We’ll avoid spoilers for all those who haven’t finished Mass Effect 3, but Mass Effect 4 could explain what happened to Shepard after that ending. Mass Effect 3’s various finales managed to conclude Shepard’s story fairly beautifully, but have also caused many an online argument.
We would love to see what happens to Shepard, but also to the universe itself. What happened to that now redundant technology? What happened to the various races? Mass Effect 4 could have a go at answering some of those questions.
3. Play as an alien
As fond as we are at times of our own human form, Mass Effect 4 could be the chance to explore the universe from the perspective of another species. Imagine playing as a Krogan, Asari, Quarian, Turian or Salarian, instead of a human?
The Mass Effect trilogy featured so many races that the next game could tell any of their stories. In fact, it could be argued that in comparison, Shepard is one of the least interesting characters in the trilogy, which is certainly a nod to BioWare’s ability to create rounded non-player characters.
4. A more personal story
Finally, BioWare could make the whole storyline of Mass Effect 4 a little less grandiose. We’ve already repeatedly saved the universe, so why not take the plot right down to a single character’s more personal quest or at least something a little less epic?
The loyalty quests in the original Mass Effect Trilogy could be expanded into full length games, or introduce a new character somehow connected to the series’ existing characters.
5. Space Battles
The Mass Effect series missed out on a potentially golden opportunity. In between the planets and asteroids, the universe was an inaccessible expanse. All the space exploration we got to do was watch loading screens between planets or scrounge resources for the war effort.
Mass Effect 4 needs space battles. Indeed, Mass Effect 3 actually had one of the best space battle scenes, but unfortunately we didn’t get to partake in it. BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic features space battles, so why not the next Mass Effect game?
How they approach such space battles could come in a number of formats, but anything better than laboriously scanning planets for resources would be preferable.
What would you like to see? Share your thoughts in the comments.